Two weeks ago a medical evacuation helicopter carrying patient, family, nurse, and pilot disappeared in the Sulu Sea. Immediate and persistent searching has thus far left more questions than answers. Pilot Daniel Lui and nurse Janelle Alder were committed to their work of bringing healing for the diseases of body, mind, and soul. Daniel’s Facebook page featured this quote from C.T. Studd, “Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
The news of their disappearance spread quickly and brought an outpouring of prayers, posts, and comments. Many of those comments expressed the conviction that there needed to be more missionaries, like Daniel and Janelle, willing to sacrifice home, comforts, and safety to reach the lost of this world. Many people posted videos of Daniel and Janelle telling of how their work made a real difference in people’s lives, both physically and spiritually, and the underlying, if not explicitly stated message, was I wish I could do that too. Songs were written, gatherings were held, sermons were given, and many expressed the conviction of their hearts to go serve the lost and share the gospel.
I praise the Lord for these convictions, for conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), who uses the experiences of life to reach the hearts of men. But I want to caution each of us with this warning:
The strength of conviction is lost over time. To not respond today to the conviction of the Holy Spirit is as dangerous to conviction as is outright rejection. When we don’t do today what the Lord makes clear to us today we are less likely to do tomorrow what He wants us to do then.
Faith always requires a response (Jam. 2:17). Conviction is brought by the Holy Spirit to bring us to repentance, to turn us from something and to turn us toward Christ and His work. And unless genuine repentance follows conviction the work of the Holy Spirit has been prevented.
Preventing the work of the Holy Spirit sounds so active and antagonistic, but it doesn’t need to be. Listen to this inspired counsel:
… By every hesitation and delay, we place ourselves where it is more and more difficult for us to accept the light of heaven, and at last it seems impossible to be impressed by admonitions and warnings. The sinner says, more and more easily, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25)….
The person who is drawn again and again by his Redeemer, and who slights the warnings given, yields not to his convictions to repent, and heeds not when he is exhorted to seek pardon and grace, is in a perilous position. Jesus is drawing him, the Spirit is exerting His power upon him, urging him to surrender his will to the will of God; and when this invitation is unheeded, the Spirit is grieved away. The sinner chooses to remain in sin and impenitence, although he has evidence to encourage his faith, and more evidence would do no good…. There is another drawing to which he is responding, and that is the drawing of Satan. He yields obedience to the powers of darkness. This course is fatal, and leaves the soul in obstinate impenitence. This is the blasphemy that is most general among men, and it works in a most subtle way, until the sinner feels no remorse of conscience, no repentance, and consequently has no pardon….That I May Know Him, p.244
We don’t choose when the Holy Spirit calls us; we only choose when we respond to the Holy Spirit’s call. Delaying to respond begins the process of decaying the Spirit’s conviction. The struggle to obey is in direct proportion to our hesitation to obey.
I pray that we will each be as Abraham, the father of those who walk by faith, when he was asked to respond to the call of the Lord to circumcise himself and his household:
And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.Genesis 17:23-27
I earnestly appeal to each of us to heed Christ’s appeal:
Today, walk in the light. This morning, gather up every ray of light you’ve been given. Right now, live by the Word of God. Moment by moment, follow the Lamb’s conviction, like Daniel and Janelle, until, by God’s grace, we may all stand together on Heaven’s blissful shore. Maranatha!